knowledge gaps in SEO - cover image

One in three business owners don’t understand how Google search engine rankings work. Search engine optimisation is one of the most critical aspects of any digital marketing strategy. And yet, there is an abundance of people who have little or no idea about what SEO involves.

A recent study of 1000 participants aimed to find where the knowledge gaps in SEO were most prominent. Of everyone surveyed, 394 of them were business owners, contributing a unique insight into whether industry professionals are aware of the power of search engine optimisation. The results were fascinating, to say the least.

Who Knows About SEO?

Almost 1 in 4 business owners and more than 2 in 5 non-business owners have no concept of what search engine optimisation entails.

knowledge gaps in SEO chart explaining what people do and do not understand about SEO

Non-business Owners

SEO is not new, yet it seems to stand as an industry that has not necessarily infiltrated the awareness of the general public. 27.4% of the people surveyed who did not own a business had not heard of SEO and were not familiar with how search engines work.

9.9% on non-business owners have no understanding of how Google determines which search results to show first. For those that have been in the industry a long time, wrapping your head around this statistic can seem challenging. Considering Google handles over 75,000 queries per second, almost 10% of the average internet users have little understanding of how and why the information is visible to them.

Business Owners

Today, having an online presence for your business is crucial to finding new customers and maintaining a brand. Digital marketing is a component that should intertwine into every marketing strategy at this point. Without SEO, businesses will struggle to acquire any search visibility and organic traffic. And yet, there are still a large number of organisations that refuse to acknowledge the importance of SEO.

The survey revealed that nearly a quarter of business owners were only either vaguely or not at all familiar with search engine optimisation. Only 25.6% of business owners classed themselves as “very familiar”, with the highest percentage of them falling into the category of “mostly familiar”, at 29.4%.

The positive to take away from this is that there is a wealth of opportunity for business owners to learn about SEO, how it can impact their business, and take steps to acquire a competitive edge over their main competitors.

Business owners appear to have a marginally better understanding of SEO than non-business owners. But ultimately, the survey reveals that there is plenty of room for both parties to learn more about search engines and SEO. After all, a whopping 4.54 billion people actively use the internet – shouldn’t users take the time to understand the basics of how information presents to them?

SEO in Conversation

77.4% of participants do not know anything about SEO

It’s one thing for someone to have heard of SEO; it’s another to understand the terms that for SEO in conversation. SEO is an industry filled with acronyms, marketing-lingo, and buzzwords that can be confusing.

To get a further understanding of how many people truly recognise SEO concepts, Fractl asked their participants if they were familiar with a handful of SEO buzzwords. They presented a list of standard SEO terms and asked which they felt confident describing to someone.

83.2% and 86.9% of non-business owners and business owners respectively felt confident in their understanding of the term “keywords”. 58.8% of business owners knew what “backlinks” described, with 43.4% of the general public agreeing.

This suggests that most people have a better understanding of how Google works on a surface level than they realise. Both parties are familiar with the terms that are used for a search query to match a search result but are not so sure about factors that Google takes into consideration for websites to rank in those search results. Below are more results of how participants responded to the SEO buzzwords.

Basic SEO Quiz

Finally, the survey concluded with a test. People may believe that they understand terms and concepts, but the ultimate test is providing basic SEO-related questions and seeing how participants respond.

The survey included an eight-question quiz. Business owners received an average score of 48.7% correct answers, with non-business owners averaging 38.7%. With multiple-choice questions, all survey respondents failed a basic SEO quiz.

The following questions were asked:

basic SEO quiz results about SEO knowledge from the general population
  • Which best describes organic search?
  • What is alt text?
  • What are backlinks?
  • What is anchor text?
  • Site Speed is an important factor in Google search rankings. True or False?
  • Nofollow links do not impact Google search rankings. True or False?

28.7% of people answered that organic search results were searches directly with a search engine, rather than the correct answer; unpaid search results. Only 33% of participants knew what alt-text was, and 28.6% of them admitted that they didn’t know what backlinks were. Given that organic search and backlinks are considered two of the most critical concepts in SEO, it’s surprising to discover that only about half of the population understand them.

42.9% answered “what is anchor text” correctly, and 55.8% of people knew that site speed is an important factor in Google search rankings. More than half of the respondents chose “I don’t know” for whether or not nofollow links impacted Google search rankings.

Why Does This Matter?

This study was conducted for one reason; to get an understanding of how much people know about SEO. Not only is search engine optimisation is now an integral component of marketing a business, but it impacts the way that information is provided and served to everyone online. Learning about basic SEO is something everyone should undertake – business owner or not.

Search is easy to take for granted when you look for something online and have the results simply provided. By taking the time to learn about how search works, distinguishing between organic and paid results, and understand how authority and trust are built online, users can learn to become more conscious and aware online consumers.

knowledge gaps in SEO - 82% of people implemented an SEO strategy said it had a positive effect on business

Particularly for business owners, learning about SEO is crucial in today’s digital world. For your company to grow and attain new business, understanding how search engines work so they can better rank your website for organic traffic is critical. With greater knowledge into search engine results, businesses can experience greater benefits in their online marketing efforts.

As for us SEO experts, this is an important reminder that while we may have years of experience in learning and understanding SEO, the general public is still relatively unaware of how it works. It’s no secret that search engine optimisation can become quite complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. As search engine optimisation specialists, it’s our job to keep up to date with the latest SEO trends, updates, and algorithm shifts and close the knowledge gap in SEO. Want help with your SEO strategy? Talk to the SEO Experts at Safari Digital today.